The family arrived in the United States in 1995 on six-month tourist visas, said Virginia Kice, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Settling in Fresno, Arthur's father, Ruben Mkoian (he and his son spell their last names slightly differently), worked as a truck driver. The teen's mother worked in a jewelry store, and the family set about living their lives, which soon included a younger brother for Arthur.
Mkoian believes that if they were to return to Armenia, his family would be subject to reprisals because of his attempts to expose corruption at the government agency where he worked.
After the family's visas expired, they applied for U.S. residency. That application was denied, Kice said.
Immigration wheels turns extremely slowly. An immigration judge finally ruled in 2002 that the family had no legal right to remain in America.
The family tried again by applying to the Board of Immigration Appeals; that was rejected, also. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last year denied their petition for a hearing.
"I would remind people that this family had ample access to due process," Kice said. "The case has been in litigation for more than 10 years. Immigration experts on every level determined that they had no legal basis to be in the United States."
This is nuts. Why even have these courts and judges if they take this long to make decisions like this? If they had nabbed them within a year or two of their arrival that would have been one thing. But 13 years later we are going to uproot them and send them packing after they have caused no problems and, in fact, are contributing positively to our society?
Fortunately, a bill sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein could resolve things by granting the family citizenship.
This is the common sense thing to do in this case, but unfortunately common sense is something that is sorely lacking in many parts of our country.
I first learned of this case this morning by reading this dreadful column by Ruben Navarette who essentially applauds the decision to deport the kid and his family. Why? The law is the law, he states flatly. But the real reason is darker than that as he goes on to admit. It turns out that Navarette can recall a case a few years ago where a Hispanic kid may have been deported under similar circumstances, so now he thinks this kid is getting special treatment because he is not Hispanic (he is an Armenian.)
In other words, Navarette is being a racist jerk. The San Antonio Express-News should quit giving this jerk a forum and drop his syndicated column.